VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — It's been a tough couple of months for the Valdosta High School football program. They're currently without four rising seniors due to an investigation into the program by the Georgia High School Association.
That investigation found that former head coach Rush Propst and members of the Touchdown Club lured kids to the program using incentives like money and gifts. The Wildcats were also fined $7,500 and are not allowed to compete in the postseason this year.
The Wildcats are focused entering spring practice, which began Thursday, telling ABC 27 that the obstacles are only motivation for them.
Acting head coach Shelton Felton arrived on campus March 1. He took over the reigns of the program after the previous interim head coach took another job. These practices are open to the public, and in talking with several fans Thursday, they're pleased with what they've seen from coach Felton, they said they're just as ready to move on as well.
"We can use this as a stepping stone and when we build off this we can become successful and we can't just lay down and let the enemy just take us out," said AC Braswell, who is a 1989 graduate of Valdosta. He also played for the Wildcats. "We're going to build from this and I believe the whole community is going to build from this as well."
"They could have easily put their heads down and walked away but these kids are very motivated to do the right thing," said Calvin Burgess, Sr., who graduated in 1986. His grandson is a rising sophomore with the Wildcats. "They're very motivated to show everybody that they are still Valdosta High School and Valdosta High School still has a great tradition."
Both Braswell and Burgess agreed the main things this program needs right now are trust and someone who puts the kids first.